Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: 3 GIMME RIGHT NOW Salad Toppings

I like salad. I eat a lot of salad, especially in the middle of the year, it's my go-to easy lunch, and I rarely find it boring because for me, salad is not just lettuce. That said, we've all heard salad toppings such as heavy dressing or fried croutons blasted to kingdom come for making your salad unhealthy. I try and stay away from referring to my food posts as healthy, because I don't think I'm qualified to tell you what's good for you, but these are 3 of my favourite 'good for you as part of a balanced diet' toppings that I love as a everyday kind joy as opposed to the treat myself nature of say... crispy bacon, croutons and deep fried cheese.

1. Seedy

Today's lunch... Spinach with avocado, crayfish, feta & sweet pepper salsa & a generous dose of toasted seeds. #workinglunch #aldesko #salad #lowcarb #foodblogger #lblogger

I love seeds & nuts. Both Aldi and Lidl sell 75g pots of mixed seeds including sesame, pumpkin & sunflower seeds. I like to toast them all off in a nice hot, dry pan and store for sprinkling onto salads for a bit of crisp nutty crunch. Seeds & nuts are great for a plant based protein boost, they are high in so-called healthy fats (the ones that are good for heart health mono & polyunsaturated fats) and they deliver a dose of fibre which is good for satiety and digestion BUT if you're on a tightly calorie controlled diet, use a measure or way your seeds because they are high in calories.

2. Roasted Chickpeas

Lunch. Eaten in stages because phone calls and a zillion messages on the business phones. Can it be 1900 already please?! If what I eat intrigues you, I posted a 'what I eat in a day' blog last week. Search Chloe Likes To Eat or click link in bio. #workin

Can you tell I have a thing for texture? Crispy roasted chickpeas deliver a nice little crunch and a moderate level of carbohydrate boost to a salad. drain and rinse 1 tin of chickpeas, season with salt, pepper & garlic powder, and roast with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil for approx 35-40 mins. Allow to cool completely for optimum crisp-ness. These store well in an airtight container for about a week.

3. Alternative Meat & Fish additions

Weekday lunch treat- smoked salmon burger. Recipe coming on my blog next week.

I think one of the main reasons people get bored with salad is because they don't mix things up. If I ate cold chicken or ham, hard boiled eggs, lettuce, tomato and cucumber each day, I think I'd likely get bored too. Adding texture and bulk to salads is great, but if you're after an added meat or fish fix and you're bored with leftover roast chicken or the same ham you always buy, it's worth keeping things like my Smoked Salmon Burgers recipe in mind, Sarah has this great Chicken Burrito Bowl recipe over on EssBeeVee and homemade kebabs make great leftover additions to a salad.

If you're struggling with boring salad, think about the flavours or the types of food you love to eat- cook your chicken in piri piri spices or a homemade teriyaki, mix your avocado & tomatoes together with some garlic, chilli and lime for a Mexican style guacamole fix, think about using different leaves- my favourites are spinach, watercress and lambs leaf- personally I find romaines and little gem to be bitter.

I'd love to know what you top your salads with, or your favourite salad bolt-ons to keep them interesting- hit me with your favourites in the comments.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Has Social Media & The Digital World Made Us Rude?

There's nothing like a political debate to bring out passion and opinions and the EU referendum has been no different. In the digital age, I've been advertised to by all the campaigns via Twitter, Facebook, leaflets through my door, doorstepping and a barrage of TV events and interviews. I've been party to the reasoning behind many a vote in both directions, from people I've never met in and in some cases I don't even know thanks to the 'friend of a friend' notifications that land on Facebook. We've had discussions in our office, our home and with visiting family members, but it seems to me that we've all of a sudden become terribly rude.

I choose not to share my opinions on politics and in particular I've kept my digital mouth shut about the EU referendum. That's my choice, it doesn't mean I don't have an opinion, that I don't care or that I haven't voted. It doesn't mean I think sharing your opinions is wrong either- there are plenty of people who feel very passionately about politics and debates of all kind and one of the joys of democracy and freedom of speech is being able to share those opinions and campaign for them. But when did being passionate about a cause become a license to berate people for not sharing their opinions, or shutting down an opposing opinion by merely stating you think they're a waste of oxygen and deleting their connection from your network?

Many of my face-to-face discussion about highly charged issues are heated and lively, but rarely are they so rude as to dismiss me all together because our opinions differ. Rarely has anyone use offensive name calling or shamed my opinion in front of a group of people with whom I'm not already in conversation. I have seen all of these things happen on Facebook & Twitter in the last 3 days  and I'm left wondering, has social media and the ability to convey our opinion in 140 characters, the accessibility of instant news and the opportunities we have to communicate with those who agree (or disagree) with us from all around the world made us dismissive, angry and prone to swathes of incorrect and offensive generalisations relating to the opposition?

Maybe I have a misguided sense of the importance of good manners, perhaps I just lack passion, and maybe I'm guilty of living a sheltered existence in some aspects of my life, but I do know this- however 'passionate' you feel about your chosen side of a debate, however strongly you believe in something, we'd all do well to remember that we are humans and that human to human, good manners and face to face conversations can make a massive difference in how marginalised people feel, and that in turn might just help to avoid swathes of extreme views whatever the debate, issue or argument. In a time where we have concerns about divisive or polarised politics, consider how you voice your opinion before you open your digital mouth, as much as you should before you open your physical one.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chloe Likes To Eat: Nuts for Nut Butter

Nut butters provided by

Nut butters are not new. I was the kid who lived for peanut butter sandwiches in their lunchbox- y'know, back in the 90's when we all had sandwiches in our lunchboxes. But over the last 5 years, but butters have exploded into popularity, especially with the rise of 'no added' butters. The ones that are just nuts blended into a yummy, nutty paste. They're a great source of protein and fat, and let's be honest here, I don't think we can still be friends if you can't appreciate the joy in peanut butter.

What continues to surprise me with nut butters is availability. My 1kg tub of peanut butter has to be ordered on an Ocado delivery. The price of 1kg of almond butter actually made me wince recently and I've never seen a large tub of a mixed nut butter available before. Cue

Better know for their protein powders and supplements, MyProtein make and sell a vast range of products and packages. I'm well familiar with them because I rate their whey protein for an ├╝ber convenient boost to my usual breakfast smoothie, and my dad is partial to some of the protein bars, but I wouldn't ever have thought about nut butter. Their new range of nut butters includes 1kg tubs of peanut, almond, cashew and triple nut butter, Prices start at £5.99 but MyProtein are well known for their discount codes so it's worth a quick look at their offers and stocking up on a discount.

 photo Nut butters infographic_zpszbuseukx.jpg

I don't normally go in for infographics, but I really like this one- a helpful little reminder of just how good nut butters are, and as well as the above, the very friendly people at MyProtein also sent me a box that can only be described as a dream- full of nut butter! So, obviously, I delved straight in for my favourite snack.... 

nut butter

apple & nut butter

The triple nut is a dream btw... go try it! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What I Wore: Velvet Biker Jacket

There's a story and a whole load of history in the jacket. For real. I'll start off by explaining that I had it made whilst we were on holiday, it's a replica of an old faithful Topshop biker jacket that I've had for ages and love the shape of.

Velvet Biker Jacket

The fabric I took out with me. It had been sitting on a roll in my wardrobe for well over 5 years. It came to me from my Grandmother who used was commissioned to make the altar cloth for Ely Cathedral we think, around 30 years ago. She had to buy a whole roll of of 30m at the time, and after the commission and the assorted projects it has otherwise been used for over the year, I ended up with what was left on the roll. Before we left for our trip, I decided it was time to do something useful with it, and my mum suggested it would look nice as a biker jacket. And so this beauty came to be... Not bad for leftovers.

Velvet Biker JAcket 2
I have no idea what is going on with my face in the picture.... 

Velvet Biker Jacket C
Jacket & Shorts, made to measure in Vietnam - Shoes, Geox (old)

The shorts I also had made by the same tailor- I've hear a few people make comments about how horrible passe city shorts are, but I love them- like my favourite denim shorts, but slightly less casual and with a bit more coverage. I have these black ones and a lighter stone grey pair too and I sense I may wear little else for the rest of the summer months! 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chloe Rides 100: A Ride100 Training Update

There is a moment when you're working towards something, whether it's finishing your thesis, training for a marathon, interviewing for a promotion, when it's not really going to plan, and you suddenly wonder, not in a 'having a hissy fit because it's hard' way, but a serious 'what have I done wobble' kind of a way, whether you will actually reach your goal or if there's just one set back too many.

I was recently approached to take part in the London Ride100, and I leapt at the chance. With about 10 weeks until the event (cycling 100 miles through London, Surrey and back into London), I thought it was perfectly doable. I set myself up on a fairly straightforward training plan of adding one long ride at an easy pace into my weekly routine, adding around 10km to the length of the ride each week, starting out at around 20 miles. In theory this should have taken me up to 100 miles with a bit of wiggle room for some weeks where events or other things would likely get in the way.

This week, I had that wobble, because 4 weeks into my nice neat little plan I've only managed 2 of 4 rides planned, and I still haven't done a ride longer than 50 miles. Oh, and I spent last week out sick.

I see people so often who follow the mantra 'the only workout you'll regret is the one you didn't do'. Tonight I sacked off running club because I'm shattered, I have the beginning of a headache and I'm on holiday cover at work. I categorically refuse to

Rationally, I know I'm fairly fit. I run, strength train and cycle (even if it's just to the supermarket and back) 5-6 times per week. I can comfortably ride 35-40 miles on my bike without it being especially hard work and I also know that when I was WAY less fit than I am now, I rode 80 miles on a single speed bike having never gone for longer than an hour before, and whilst I was tired at the end, it was an enjoyable experience. SO... 100 miles, on a mid-range road bike, with a much enhanced understanding of sports nutrition, much higher base level of fitness AND a massive event with all the adrenaline that brings to keep me going, I should be fine, right?

I don't know if this is The Fear hitting because the schedule has pretty much gone out of the window, because I'm always a bit cranky when I can't exercise (I'm definitely someone who exercises as much for my sanity as for my physical well being), or if the prospect of a week of rain showers, an office move and a handful of commitments that have absolutely nothing to do with my bike... or perhaps it's just dawning realisation that I have, not for the first time, bitten off a bit more than is entirely comfortable to chew...

I'm not one to give up on something easily (and trust me, that is both a strength and a weakness...) and I know that I have a tendency to put undue pressure on myself when it comes to achieving goals and facing up to challenges, so my current theory is to try and let this go, to try and get my next scheduled training ride in with mileage somewhere in between the goal for the week as it was on my training plan and the mileage I last covered, and take it as it comes and to remember that this is not a race for me...  Any help or suggestions on getting on track and chilling out about all this would be welcome at this stage, because #finishlinesbeforefinishtimes is all fine and good in theory, but we'll have to see how it actually goes in practice...

I like to ride my bicycle, I love to ride my bike...


Monday, June 13, 2016

What I Wore: Pink (p)Leather Skirt

I had an unexpected break there last week. I woke up on my birthday full of a nasty cold type bug, and it took me most of the weekend and into the following week to shake. JOY! I had a week off last week, but this cold thing wiped me out so badly that I really only managed to get in half of the things I wanted. Sometimes adulting really is very dull. On the plus side, I did actually wear clothes that weren't jeans and a t-shirt (or running/cycling kit) throughout the week to blast through a myriad of appointments, meetings and a few sneaky Vodka & Tonics with friends and family assorted.

Pink Leather Skirt 2
Skirt, ASOS - Shirt, via eBay (old) - Shoes, Clarks (old)

I bought the skirt a few months back (before our holiday) because I had one of those panic moments about having nothing to wear to a family birthday lunch. I'm aware that a leather pleated skirt may not be everyone's first thought when I say 70th Birthday Lunch, but that's just we roll.

Also, can we get a cheer for a pleated skirt that actually covers my behind? Over the years I have pretty much given up on pleated skirts, however much I've liked the look of them, because they always turn out to be this ridiculously micro length , which I'm not a fan of- this skirt is a kind of mythical perfect length where it's long enough to cover everything and sits on that super flattering just above the knee place that gives my legs some shape (that is to say- a shape that isn't tree trunk).

Oh, and the inside- feels a bit like suede so not sticky-sweaty nasty pealing the plastic fabric away from you when you stand up from your seat....

I appear to be on a bit of a roll with the whole skirts thing, because I took these pictures before realising I was running late for my train 2 days later...

Printed Midi Skirt
Shirt, as before - Skirt via eBay - Shoes, Clarks (old)

Another mythical perfect length midi skirt- as in doesn't make me look super short with no legs. What I didn't appreciate in purchasing this off white colour is that it's a bloody nightmare finding things to go with it- the white/pink & green on the flowers and the not-quite-cream-not-quite-white colour. So forgive me if it seems like I live in this almost sheer blouse, but it sort of seems to go with everything right now, and seems to complement my new unofficial uniform of pleated skirt & heels rather well. 

Needless to say.... today it's back to work... and back to jeans and a t-shirt.... 


Thursday, June 2, 2016

That's A Wrap: My 12 Months Of Running

Tomorrow (Friday) will be my 27th Birthday. That's not especially remarkable, but for the year that has been and gone since I turned 26.

In June of last year we waited anxiously for a third of my four grandparents to go through major, quite risky and sort of experimental surgery, him having recently been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer has rampaged through my family leaving quite literally death and destruction in its path, which left me feeling a bit helpless. My way of *doing* something... to set myself a ridiculous challenge.

I was struggling on through Couch25K this time last year. I'd barely gotten half way through the program in 4 months thanks mostly to assorted injuries and a problematic period around our house move. So naturally, I decided that running 100 kilometres in races between my birthdays would be a great idea. I mean it's only like doing the 10km race I'd already booked myself onto (to try and keep me motivated with C25K), ten times over. RIGHT?

So let's talk numbers shall we...

The official total number of race kilometres: 143.4

Total number of races: 14

Total kilometres run since 03/06/15: 561

Properly sweaty long run this morning north London. Wishing my running club #teambrc a happy first birthday even though I could be there for celebrations.

That's a lot of running. I didn't always love it either. You know how some people seem to instantly get something and the radiate this love for it all, that wasn't me. I had to learn to love being active all round, not just the whole running thing, so here's a few more things I learned along the way...

Running isn't bad for you. Running and not doing any stretching or even a small amount of other strength training is bad for you and likely to result in injury. It would also seem that adding strength training to my weekly regime made me run faster. A lot faster.

L:2016 R:2015. I don't look that different but a marathon and 100km in races later... It sure feels different.
Now vs Then: Jan 2016:Jan 2015

Finish lines before finish times. Beating your goal time or getting a PB is great, but if you spend the entire run sobbing in pain or miserable because you'd rather be riding your bike or reading your book or cooking a new recipe, well, what's the point really. I know that we won't all want to get our behinds up and out all the time, but there has to be some joy in there somewhere and sometimes that joy is in completion of a job well done and enjoyed.... BUT....

When you do reach a goal, grad a new personal best time or run a minute longer or a few hundred metres further, it's awesome. Like that weird high people talk about awesome. 12 months in, I still take pleasure in realising I can now do something harder, faster, further or quicker. This is especially evident having run a couple of my marathon training routes over the last few weeks, and enjoying them, finding them fun, chatting and laughing whilst running them. As opposed to snarling, crying or staggering my way through them. And that's amazing.

I still can't quite believe my 100km challenge is run and it's only 3 days until my birthday AND I knocked 5 mins off my 10k time yesterday. Last running spam (until track night tomorrow), but for now- look at my fly! #runningblogger #thisgirlcanrunning #
Feeling strong at the end of my final race

For a 'cheap' sport it's easy to spend a lot. Suddenly, there's a whole load of amazing kit that you simply have to have. Truthfully, the only kit you really must have is a decent pair of properly fitted running shoes- something I wrote about recently in my post about needing new running shoes. If leggings and a sweatshirt are comfortable for you, go for your life. If H&M, F21 or Clothing at Tesco make your favourite 3/4 tights or vest top for less than £20, stick with it. We can all get caught up buying shiny new things, but need is a different category altogether.

#willubmine absolutely my favourite ever manicure- my marathon nails for the Cancer Research RFL marathon in October. #throwback
Doesn't everyone match their nails to their race kit?!

There are loads of really nice people who run. I attend a running club, and that's fun each week, but when out and about or at race events, people are, for the most part (there's always one idiot jumping the queue for the portaloo...) really very nice. They'll cheer you across the line, appreciate it when you move aside for them, they'll be your pacer without realising, they'll ask you if you're ok if you burn out, even though they're racing too. I have found the running community at large to be very celebratory of everyone's achievements, friendly and encouraging.

Properly sweaty long run this morning north London. Wishing my running club #teambrc a happy first birthday even though I could be there for celebrations.

And the question I've been asked so often... will I keep running now I don't *need* to?

Well I started on the Couch25K journey because I needed to exercise and it was so portable compared to moving my bike up and down between Cambridge and London, and that hasn't changed. This challenge was about pushing myself and raising money for Cancer Research UK, but it also made me train to a level that I can and do enjoy running. It lead me to a community of people I've made friend within where previously I was lonely, and it brings me joy. I'd be a fool not to keep running, and the thought that I'd just hang up my trainers come June 3rd 2016 never even crossed my mind.

I came. I ran. I've raised over £1000 for Cancer Research UK, and the page is open until 23:59 tomorrow if you'd like to donate by clicking this link: Chloe's JustGiving Page